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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 21, 2005

Is the Right to Privacy the Missing Amendment in the U.S. Constitution?

WORCESTER, MA (11/18/05) – The late U. S. Supreme Court Justice William Orville Douglas said that "The right to be let alone is the beginning of all freedom," but the word “privacy” never appears in the U.S. Constitution. Now privacy advocates, a Seattle editor, and a new web site called The Missing Amendment (www.themissingamendment.org) are raising the question of whether the Constitution should be amended to correct that omission.

Historically, individual privacy rights have been covered under other amendments such as the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, with the Ninth Amendment stating that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.“ But is the Ninth Amendment adequate to really protect the right to privacy, or does privacy need to be specifically named and defined? In his op-ed piece for the NY Times (11/16/05), Dan Savage, Editor of the Seattle news weekly, The Stranger, wrote, “Well, if the right to privacy is so difficult for some people to locate in the Constitution, why don't we just stick it in there? Wouldn't that make it easier to find?”

Stephen K. Gielda, director of TheMissingAmendment.org, not only agrees with that suggestion, but he feels that a constitutional amendment is necessary. "Technological advances have created a situation that threatens privacy. Our Founding Fathers could not have foreseen the technology that would have negated their ability to publish the Federalist Papers anonymously. Nor could they envision a reality where all of the details of their lives could be so easily indexed, archived, cross-referenced, and retrieved. We now face critical challenges to our privacy, and we must take steps to protect it. We must do what our Founding Fathers would have done had they foreseen what we now face. The right to privacy is such a fundamental right in the tenets of freedom that it warrants specific inclusion and protection in the Constitution."

TheMissingAmendment.org (TMA) is an extensive reference of news stories on privacy-related issues and legislation. Its goals are to inform, to foster action, and to provide a collective voice. One of TMA's volunteers explains her involvement this way: “While 9/11 changed some things, our government has increasingly used threats of terrorism as an excuse to further erode our civil liberties and our right to privacy. Enough is enough.”

Stephen K. Gielda is also president of Packetderm, LLC, a security and privacy solutions provider that funds The Missing Amendment.

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